LEGAL action is being contemplated against a prominent funeral home which is being blamed for a mix-up which led to a woman's body being sent to the wrong family for final rites which included her being cremated, following the funeral in which her casket was sealed because she had died from covid19.
As a result, no funeral could be held for Diane Williams and instead, her relatives and friends held a memorial service on Tuesday at the Valley Kingdom Ministries in Morne Coco Road, Petit Valley. According to the memorial service pamphlet, Williams died on Christmas Day.
Newsday was unable to reach the family who received Williams' body in error but it is assumed they they too had to go through additional stress of holding a funeral all over again when they received the correct body of their loved one.
At the memorial service, relatives lovingly remembered Williams as a woman who was always there for everyone whom she knew and always had a kind word or advice. However, as she departed this world, no one was there for her, although not through the fault of her loved ones.
Newsday understands that her body was cremated last week, having been sent to the wrong family for final rites.
Her relatives have been advised by their attorneys to remain silent pending planned legal proceedings against the funeral agency for negligence arising out of the mix-up of the bodies.
Apostle Wayne Andrews officiated at Williams' memorial, which was also streamed live on YouTube. During the memorial both the pastor and a close relative of Williams referred to the mix-up by the funeral agency.
After the service and when contacted for a comment, Williams' relative who spoke about the mix-up during the memorial, told Newsday, "I have no closure. I don't have a body. I have no closure."
When Newsday called the funeral agency mentioned during the memorial service, an official who answered the phone said he did not know what we were talking about.
Told that their agency was being blamed, he said, "Give me your number and I'll get back to you." However, up to press time, no one had returned Newsday's call.
Head of the Funeral Directors' Association Keith Belgrove (whose funeral home is not the agency involved in the mix-up) for a comment on Tuesday evening could not be reached for comment.
On her Facebook page, Williams made a post on December 1, offering hints and tips to handle covid19, saying, "This wave of covid infections should not be taken for granted!"
In reply, a friend thanked her, saying, "Hope you are over that hurdle," to which Williams cheerfully replied, "Praise God I am."
She died days later. A relative who spoke with Newsday on Tuesday, confirmed her death was due to covid.
During the memorial service, Williams' twin brother Charles Williams said he was still in shock at her death. He said she was always cheerful, with a good word of advice, including having helped him through his divorce.
Williams' sister Michelle remembered her as warm-hearted and generous.
"She always made sure you were ok. It's only after she died, did I find out how many lives she had touched." One tribute came from a Venezuelan family of ten.
Apostle Andrews lamented that "the mishap of that funeral home should not have happened." This is not the first time that a wrong body has been sent to a funeral.
Last May, the body of popular Tunapuna market vendor Balnarine "Balo" Bennie, 63, who died of covid19, was being taken for cremation in St James when a mourner noticed the corpse in the casket was not Bennie's.
On July 9, 2020, a Newsday story was headlined, Wrong body delivered, funeral home loses attempt to dismiss lawsuit. The story said Rasheed Baksh of San Juan brought a lawsuit against a top funeral home when he held a funeral at his home for his late mother, due to be followed by cremation.
The body arrived at his home and after 30 minutes of prayers over the closed casket, it was opened for the bereaved to have a final viewing, only for Baksh and undertakers to realise the wrong body had been delivered.
Then in Tobago recently, the Scarborough morgue failed to find the body of covid19 victim Narupa Ramsumair in time for the funeral set for December 21. Eventually her body was located and she was laid to rest at the Buccoo Cemetery the next day.